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iPod Liquid Disaster!
February 28, 2005 10:18 AM   Subscribe

I got my iPod wet. Am I screwed?

I was cleaning up after a party and didn't notice it had slipped from my breast pocket into the trash bag due to ambient noise. After a fretful search, I decided to open and go through the trash bag, and I found it covered in beer. Worse, some liquid was trapped between the LCD and the outer laminate.

I called the nearby Apple store, and their stance was that liquid damage voids the warranty, so why not crack the sucker open to help dry it out better.

Which I did. But I guess I'd like to know how likely screwed I am. It'd be nice to hear a couple anecdotes where iPods in similar situations worked again, but I certainly don't expect there to be a happy ending.

Also, how much does it matter that it was beer?

For now, it's drying by a heater and seems in decent-enough shape.
posted by Hat Maui to Computers & Internet (23 answers total)
 
It would be my educated guess (educated in that I've doused several types of electronics in various liquids, including my powerbook) that your ipod has a good chance of surviving if you let it dry out completely. I'd carefully clean what pieces you can with some alcohol on a cotton swab, and then leave it open for several days in a dry place.
posted by odinsdream at 10:26 AM on February 28, 2005


Oh, and disconnect the battery immediately.
posted by odinsdream at 10:26 AM on February 28, 2005


Take it apart as best you can. Immediately. Fill a clear plastic bag with uncooked rice, and mix up the pieces in the rice. Seal the bag, and put it under a bright/warm-to-hot lamp and let it sit for at least 24 hours.

When that's done, put it back together and see if it works. This has saved many an electronic gizmo in the past (including my cell phone when it went for a swim last weekend), but I don't know anyone who has tried it with an iPod.

Good luck--let us know how it goes!
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2005


thanks, odinsdream, but i don't see an obvious way to disconnect the battery. it appears taped down to the motherboard and no connection is readily apparent. should i untape it?

btw, i did not attempt at any point to turn it on after this had happened, and the "lock" switch remained locked and is still.
posted by Hat Maui at 10:36 AM on February 28, 2005


This page has instructions for battery removal (scroll to bottom of page, includes links to video and html).

From seeing (others') laptops doused with liquid a few times, liquid itself isn't bad for electronics; it's only bad for electronics with power going through them.

Sadly, as you probably know, the iPod never really turns completely off (without removing the battery). I wonder which components are powered when the pod's in sleep or deep sleep?
posted by nobody at 10:48 AM on February 28, 2005


Great suggestion with the rice, NotMyselfRightNow. You could also use silica gel if you have any, as unlikely as that would be.
posted by odinsdream at 10:59 AM on February 28, 2005


Why open the iPod? Gauche consumerism on your behalf. Let it dry, send it to Apple for warranty repair. Deny vehemently that there was any liquid damage involved. It might be obvious to them that you're lying, but I bet a few wrangling phonecalls are all it would take to get them to replace it. They won't bother with a chemical analysis. If they insist there is residual moisture in the iPod, insist you sent it in dry, and just keep piling blame and outrage on them. They'll give in.
posted by ori at 11:31 AM on February 28, 2005


If someone can get their iPod working after having it fall in a toilet, I think your chances are good!
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:33 AM on February 28, 2005


"just keep piling blame and outrage on them"

Don't do that. Crap like this is what I had to deal with when I worked in retail/customer service years ago. To this day, it's the main reason that I loathe the general public and see most of humanity as rude, selfish, and just generally horrible.

Sorry about your iPod though - it's never happened to me, but I've heard stories where people completely submerged theirs and it's come out fine. I can't imagine a little beer will do too much damage as long as you dry it out as best you can.
posted by AlisonM at 11:38 AM on February 28, 2005


A couple years ago, my cell phone was completely underwater (in a fountain) for at least a minute or two before I noticed it had fallen, and it was fine. I did not take it apart or introduce it to rice or anything else. I just patted it dry as best I could, and waited a little while, and then gave it a shot. Good luck!
posted by mdn at 11:47 AM on February 28, 2005


They'll give in.

Your type of strong-arm, get what I want without caring about the means tactic works for a lot of companies, but not Apple. I've had to justify it.

I've done iPod support and the message is clear; if there is evidence enough, they just won't repair it. It's entirely in the contract that the discretion is Apple's and they use it.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 11:49 AM on February 28, 2005


If the iPod had beer on/in it, you might want to rinse it with distilled water before drying it out with the techniques above. And make sure the battery's disconnected before doing so.
posted by zsazsa at 11:51 AM on February 28, 2005


Why open the iPod? Gauche consumerism on your behalf.

um, isn't insulting the asker against the rules of ask metafilter? what's "gauche" or "consumerist" about not lying?
posted by Hat Maui at 11:58 AM on February 28, 2005


For what it's worth, I've poured liquids into my laptop twice. I immediately shut it off, opened it all up, and allowed it to dry out. I put it back together and was successful both times. I am strongly in the open it up, dry it out camp. Let us know how it turns out.
posted by sled at 12:04 PM on February 28, 2005


i would like to thank everyone for their help/hope in this thread, with the notable exception of ori.

i will post here regarding the turnout, so if you care, check back in a day or two.
posted by Hat Maui at 12:07 PM on February 28, 2005


my (second generation) iPod fell in a 2-inches-deep puddle of watery mud, and (a few months later) I also left it in the late-June California desert sun for about an hour (I left it in the shade of course, but then earth apparently moves, so it didn't stay in the shade much longer and when I came back from an errand it was literally baking. I know, I know).
then I spoke with an Apple Store person who explained that, if you dry it reasonably well and it wasn't completely underwater in the first place, chances are the damage is not that bad -- extreme heat can be potentially more dangerous.

bottom line: after it got very wet I took it apart, dried it, and it restarted pretty well (every once in a while it's slow to start, an apple appears on the screen and it takes a couple minutes to start, a problem it still has).

after it got very hot, instead, i kept it in a cool place then linked it to my iBook, formatted it, and battery life was shortened dramatically but no further trouble
the suggestions for drying it are good -- rice, silica, all good. don't worry too much.
chances are you're pretty safe
posted by matteo at 12:16 PM on February 28, 2005


I think the sugar in the beer might be the worst part. Although I'm not sure how the click wheel works, the stickyness of the dried beer might be a factor in it working again. I'd be tempted to rinse it with water then leave it to dry as normal. Good luck
posted by fire&wings at 2:05 PM on February 28, 2005


I'm in the take it apart and let it dry out-camp. You may want to swab it with something like alcohol or distilled water as suggested above after taking it apart. Let it dry out for a couple of days until you are sure it's nice and dry again. I have successfully left my mp3 player to dry out on my bathroom floor (that is heated) after it fell in a pond this summer (cleaned it with some clean water after dismantling it). Anyway, somewhere warm and most of all dry, should suffice.

Just like matteo I have noticed that the battery is somewhat reduced, and sometimes it just turn itself off, but then it's just to start it again.

And whatever they might say, don't put it either the oven or the microwave. My flatmate did that with her mobile phone, and it was a nightmare to clean out that melted plastic...
posted by mummimamma at 2:24 PM on February 28, 2005


I'm firmly in the "rinse it in water after removing the battery before drying" camp.

That said, supposedly simply removing the battery on an IPOD is a good way to destroy it...
posted by delmoi at 4:25 PM on February 28, 2005


That said, supposedly simply removing the battery on an IPOD is a good way to destroy it...

I don't think this is true.
posted by odinsdream at 8:33 PM on February 28, 2005


Don't know if this is on-time, but:
Run, don't walk, to a repair place that handles mobile phones, for what is called (in South Africa, at least), a "flow". They will wash it out in naptha, which will remove residue and moisture, fast.

When small gizmos get wet, you want to do this very fast. The moisture isn't the problem, the resulting corrosion is. I just had a brand new cell phone get wet with salt pool water. I learned this as a result. The repair would have been half (or less) had I taken it in immediately. I didn't even know anyone repaired them!
posted by Goofyy at 8:48 PM on February 28, 2005


Backing up fire&wings: Having used many a laptop to DJ, I've had my fair share splashed with beer, and, in one particular incident, had an entire pint of beer poured over a Dell machine. As all the advice above suggests, I took the machine apart, dabbed out the standing liquid and let it dry for a couple of days, then put it back together. The machine was fine, but I needed to buy a new keyboard - the electronics survived, but the mechanical parts were buggered by the beer.
posted by benzo8 at 8:48 PM on February 28, 2005


Hello,
I have an ipod photo 20gb. I dropped in water two days ago where it remained for 2-3 seconds before I pulled it out.
I freaked out a bit and pushed the click wheel and switched it to hold (as I know I should not have done with water inside of it). Since then, I have let it rest, taken it apart, blow dried it, reassembled it, charged it, reset it (menu/select) restored it through ipod update, and loaded songs onto it. The ipod will charge, and I can sync with itunes and manage songs (load and erase) when connected to my mac and itunes. It will turn on when I switch it to hold and the light will come on when I switch hold off. It will respond to a simultaneous menu and select button pressing. It will not respond to scrolling or clicking to view the music files or play music. There is no audible when the click wheel is pressed. The only response from the click wheel is when I reset (with menu/select). I feel like I am so close to a revived ipod. How can I get my click wheel to respond?
Thank you,
posted by Adam108 at 1:01 PM on November 16, 2005


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